By Cleve Bryan

CAPE MAY, NJ (CBS) – As they travel more than 2,000 miles to Mexico, monarch butterflies face an uncertain path.

“There’s estimated to be a 90 percent decline in monarch populations,” says Dick Walton, director of the Monarch Monitoring Project in Cape May.

Walton says that data comes from where the monarchs spend their winters in the mountains of Mexico but in 25 years of the MMP counting, the butterflies had one of their worst years in Cape May last year.

He says the biggest reason for the decline is destruction of natural habitats in North America, in particular the loss of milkweed in the Mid-West.

“Milkweed has been eradicated from areas that previously were the marginal areas of farming country,” says Walton.

To help preserve the monarchs New Jersey lawmakers are considering bills to encourage the growth of new habitats.

Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen) has sponsored legislation to create programs for planting milkweek in public lands used for drainage and planting groves of nectar-producing plants called butterfly “waystations.”

Monarchs are important to the environment for pollinating and in areas like Cape May they’ve become a popular attraction for nature lovers and ecotourism.


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